Are Frogs Being 'Eaten to Extinction'?

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Are Frogs Being 'Eaten to Extinction'?

By Lindsay Barnett

Could the global market for frog legs be pushing the little guys toward extinction? Some scientists and conservationists fear it's possible, and they're calling for tighter regulations and increased monitoring on the world's consumption of frog meat to avoid it.

From the New Scientist:

According to U.N. figures, global trade has increased in the past 20 years. France -- not surprisingly -- and the U.S. are the two largest importers, with France importing between 2,500 and 4,000 tons of frog meat each year since 1995.

But although frog legs are often thought of in the West as a quintessentially French dish, they are also very popular in Asia.

[David Bickford of the National University of Singapore] estimates that between 180 million to over a billion frogs are harvested each year. "That is based on both sound data and an estimate of local consumption for just Indonesia and China," he says. "The actual number I suspect is quite a bit larger and my 180 million bare minimum is almost laughably conservative."

The increasing amount of frog legs eaten worldwide may be caused, at least in part, by the fact that the dish is eaten year-round (whereas it was seen as a seasonal dish in the past), according to the Telegraph.

From the Telegraph's report:

"Frogs are already in a bad way throughout most parts of the world," said ecologist Professor Corey Bradshaw, from [the University of Adelaide's] school of earth and environmental sciences....

Bradshaw said frogs played a vital role in almost all ecosystems and that something needed to be done by humans now to prevent a devastating "chain reaction."

"Wild populations have depleted and countries have become concerned only now due to not having insect control for agricultural production."

The New Scientist notes that, because "harvested" frogs are usually skinned and frozen before being shipped overseas, it's difficult to tell exactly which species are being sold for food. "Indonesia is the world's largest exporter of frog meat, exporting more than 5,000 tons of frog meat each year, mostly to France, Belgium and Luxembourg," according to the report, and it's believed that most of the frogs included in that total are crab-eating frogs, giant Jana frogs and American bullfrogs.

Originally published in the LA Times.

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